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Kathmandu valley comprises of three cities; Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan (Lalitpur). Kathmandu is the capital city of Nepal. Patan or Lalitpur is approximately 5 kilometers away from Kathmandu situated towards its south east and Bhaktapur is at 14 kilometers towards the east of it. Kathmandu valley is valued for its originality, its exclusiveness and its diverse culture. Kathmandu valley is among the oldest, historically and culturally significant place in the world. The daily lifestyle of the people, their diverse ethnicity, culture, the centuries old monuments, etc. make Kathmandu a very fascinating place for the tourists. Being a capital city, Kathmandu is a cultural, political, educational and economical hub of the nation. The city never sleeps. Despite being a very busy place, people cherish its beauty and uniqueness. Every place has its own history which contributes to its worthiness. The history of the city dates way back about 2000 years ago to the Vedic age. The city is dominated by temples and more temples. There are also age-old religious monuments, scriptures and practices. Religious and philosophical art is presented in some of its well-maintained art galleries. There are also historical museums, where artifacts from centuries ago are preserved and show-cased, a testament to the rich history of Nepal.
Kathmandu has a variety of Jatras annually which are worth being a part of. While planning a trip to Katmandu, make sure you attend one of these rituals as they are not only a source of entertainment but also show you a new dimension about the beliefs, values and practices of the people. Kathmandu although dominated by Hinduism followed by Buddhism and then other religions is exemplary to the world on religious tolerance. Having a rich culture and a welcoming attitude, people belonging to all sorts of religious beliefs have settled in the valley which makes it highly cosmopolitan.
Kathmandu valley is surrounded by high hills and consists of very fertile black soil. The town is positioned at a height of just about 1,400 meters, which is almost equal to 4,600 feet. It is formed in the bowl-shape and the valley is in a central location of Nepal which is enclosed by four chief mountains, called: Shivapuri, Phulchowki, Nagarjun and Chandragiri. Terrace farming is highly practised in the hills which adds a touch of beauty to the natural scenery of the place. The greenery of the place gives you a feeling of freshness as it cuts down on the pollution and increases the amount of oxygen in the air. The population count is about 1,081,845 (2011, Central Bureau of Statistics). Going a little farther from the center of the valley, the seven UNESCO World Heritage sites are located which only adds to the socio-cultural significance of the valley.
Being the capital city of Nepal, Kathmandu does have the best and latest arrangements of communication and transportation. This place is also counted as the most urban areas in Nepal, so called as the metropolitan part of the country. Kathmandu valley being one of the most visited tourist destination of Nepal, contributes a bulk to the Nepalese economy. Nepali is the most spoken language of the city which is understood by everybody. Similarly, Kathmandu is dominated by people of Newari culture who often speak Newari language. English is also widely spoken and understood specially in the tousrist spots.
Kathmandu is a crowded city. However, there are all kinds of things for all kinds of people. Everyone can relate to and find something for them in every nook and corner of this city. Kathmandu is a heaven for shopaholics and gastronomists. Apart from shopping and trying out new cuisin, tourists can engage in lots of outdoor activies. Some of them are mentioned below.
The best thing to do in Kathmandu is to go hiking. The people looking for adventure should give it a try. There are many interesting hiking options in Kathmandu. The most popular of these are Nagarkot Hike, Chisapani Hike, Champadevi Hike, Nagarjuna Hike, Lakurevhanjyang Hike, Phulchowki Hike among others. For these hiking trips one can hire a local travel guide and get the best hiking experience.
Kathmandu is a paradise for food lovers. Due to the cultural diversity, there is diersity in the cuisins. You can entertain your taste-buds with the hot and spicy Chatpate to the sweet and savoury Kheer (rice pudding). To visit Nepal and not taste Mo:Mo is letting your trip go waste. You should also definitely try the Newari, Sherpa and Thakali cuisins among others. Whether you want the cheap street food or gourmet continental dishes; Karhmandu is your city.There are some awesome restaurants specially in the Thsmel and Jhamsikhel area serving amazing food that will make your taste-buds weep with joy. The best one to try although is the Nepali staple dish Dal Bhat Tarkari (lentils, rice and vegetables).
Kathmandu is a great place to shop specially for antique stuff and to collect souvenirs from your trip to Nepal. You can shop anything and everything in Kathmandu. Whether it is the simple I LOVE NEPAL T-shirt or the golden gleaming Buddha statue, you cannot resist yourself. How can you not by the softest pure Pashmina Shawl (Cashmere scarf) for your mom or that Mandala painting for your living room? How about those organic tea leaves or that gasp-inducing Khukuri Rum? The shopaholic in you wouldn’t mind burning a hole in your pocket when you roam the streets of Thamel because shopping in Kathmandu is simply irresistable.
Exploring the scenic beauty is what you want? Kathmandu valley is the place you are looking for. Kathmandu has world’s most exotic scenic beauty and the best way to explore this scenic beauty is by mountain flight. Mountain flight is one of the best ways to get a glimpse of the beautiful mountains of Kathmandu valley. If you do not have enough time to trek on the famous peaks, this is the best way to explore them. Any decent travelling agency could get you to experience mountain flight in the valley.
Kathmandu is a chaotic city always rushing and full of adventure. But with adventure you must have time for meditation to relax your mind and think better. To escape from the chaos of Kathmandu and to meditate so that you can gain inner peace, one must visit Kopan monastery. It can surely a great place to visit. This place also offers different kind of courses on Buddhist meditation and yoga to give you a complete and pleasurable spiritual insight. Want to escape from the hustle and bustle of Kathmandu? This might be the best place and it will be worth the climb if you like trekking. It takes just 2 hours from Thamel.
Every nook and corner of Patan screams the rich history it carries. Patan is one of the three royal cities in the valley, others being Kathmandu and Bhaktapur. Patan is the center for lover of traditional arts. Whether it is the intricate wood carving in the windows of centuries old houses or the ancient stone inscriptures which have witnessed history, the artist inside you will dance with joy. There are innumerable Buddhist and Hindu temples in the area with more than 1200 monuments. You should definitely visit the Patan Durbar Square which also contains Krishna Mandir (temple made only from stones), Museum and the palace of Kumari (living goddess). Similarly, you may also want to visit Mangal bazar as well as Jhamsikhel (for awesome food).
Bhaktapur is situated at the height of about 401m from the ground level. The place has two names, Bhaktapur and Bhadgaon which literally means the City of Devotees. It is one of the ancient cities of the world. It is a tourist attraction because the ancient culture and monuments are so well peserved that it takes people back in time and let them relive the era. The place is fascinating because it has properly maintained paved roads, houses made out of red brick and mud and a traditional way of life which still somehow reflects the medieval times. One must visit the ‘Bhaktapur Durbar Square’ which has a unique Golden Gate and an astonishingly beautiful Palace of Fifty-Five windows among other monuments. The durbar square perfectly shows the era of the reign of Malla Dynasty which was dominated by art and architecture. One would also be very interested in the Changunarayan Temple, constructed during the reign of Mandev, the first historical king of Nepal. The reign of Kings from and after the period of Mandev is well documented in the inscriptures of Changunarayan Temple, one of the oldest temples in the world.
The most important place to visit on your trip to Katmandu is the Hindu temple of Lord Pashupatinath which is situated at the bank of the holy Baghmati River. it is said that the visit to Katthmandu is incomplete without visiting pashupatinath Temple. The temple has a busy market which is dominated by religious stalls that sell marigolds, conch shells, incense, rudraksha beads, prasad (offerings)etc. These are sold there in abundance as the victors need them to worship the deities. Although non-Hindus are not allowed to visit inside the main temple, however tousrists still visit the temple premises to experience that serenity which they wouldn’t get anywhere. The temple is always crowded, specially during major festivals. Millions of people visit the temple every year. It has become a symbol of faith to all the Nepalese.
Nagarkot is one of the best hill stations of Nepal. One can view the Himalayan range and that too from their window or a balcony in their hotel room. Nagarkot is only a 32km drive from central Kathmandu. This hill station provides quality hotels; primarily located in such a manner that they all face the Himalayan range so one can enjoy the scenic beauty of the Himalayas. You will be awed by the hills covered with Rhododenrons, the national flower of Nepal. Nagarkot is famous as a place for retreat. Many high level diplomatic dealings have taken place amidst the peaceful environment of Nagarkot. So, if you want to escape the hustle and bustle of Kathmandu, Nagarkot is the best palce to visit.
Chovar is a tiny village in Katmandu but it is worth visiting as it has some interesting places that could amuse you. Chovar is located at 6km from Kathmandu and positioned comparatively at a higher altitude. The area itself is attractive, with a twist of old streets neighboring a well-known temple of Aadinath (the first Lord) and Manjushree Park. Chovar supply a large quantity of cement to Kathmandu and other parts of Nepal. It is simply beautiful. You can release all your stress and simply relax listening to the chirping of the birds and inhaling the fresh air amidst the greenery.
Kathmandu is as mesmerising at the night as it is in the day. Most of the people think that visiting Nepal is just observing the beautiful nature and the culture of Nepalese people, well that’s not all of it. Tourists ca equally enjoy partying in Nepal with exotic and fun night clubs and discos.
Tourists from all over the world have great many options in Kathmandu for spending their evening in an enjoyable way. Tourists can watch classical dramas at the theatre, go to the local art exhibition, wine and dine at local restaurants enjoying classical and pop music, go clubbing, etc. They can also try their luck at rummy, blackjack or poker at great casinos in the city or just watch a movie and shop at the malls.
After an exciting day of exploring exotic sites of Kathmandu valley, the evenings are to enjoy the music and drink your tiredness. There are numerous clubs, bars, discos and pubs in Kathmandu to bring to the people the colors of life. These are the best places to relax after the exhausting day. You would specially want to check out Thamel area if you want to experience the nightlife in Kathmandu.
Nepalese love to watch movies whether it is a Nepali movie, a Hindi movie or an English movie. New cinema halls and multiplexes are mushrooming in the Kathmandu valley. Tourists need not worry of missing the latest in the Star Wars series when they are in Nepal as Kathmandu has quite a handful of multiplexes and cinema hall. The most famous are the QFX Jai Nepali, QFX Kumari and the Big Cinema. You can also go to a theatre to see a live act of the classical dramas. So just book a ticket and grab a bucket of popcorn, you next couple of are are going to be entertainin.
Casinos are considered the best place to unwind in the whole wide world. Kathmandu also offers good casinos for the people seeking to relax and enjoy their time in Nepal. Kathmandu offers the tourists the exciting action packed casinos which are open 24/7 for fun and many games players want to play. For casinos, you would want to go to the five stars hotels.
After a tiring day, you just want to relax listening to the soothing music. Having your dinner while watching folk dances and live music is certainly a bliss and would be a good end to your adventerous day. Any decent resturant in Kathmandu Valley has the provision of live cultural music and folk dance. It is not only a good way to spend your evening but also a good way to get acquainted with the culture and tradition of the local people.
Local artistic culture:
To say Kathmandu valley is ethnically and culturally rich is an understatement. Whether it be worshipping the only living goddesses in the world (Kumari) or climbing more than 300 steps to reach Swyambhunath, you are bound to get a huge cultural shock but in a good way. Temple of a Hindu goddess inside a Buddhist stupa of Swyambhunath as well as existence of Mosques near the Narayanhiti palace which once bleonged to Hindu King only shows us how culturally tolerant Nepalese are specially in a world where wars are erupting in the name of Religion. The Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan Durbar squares, Pashupatinath area, Swyambhunath, etc are the not-to-be missed cultural sites of the valley. It may look strange to see people worshipping stones and trees, and marrying a fruit (Bel-vivah), but the strength of Nepal definitely lies in the unity of these diversities.
Kathmandu is famous for its festivals around the globe. Their different and diverse festivities in Kathmandu attract thousands of tourists around the world. Most of these festivals originated from the Malla era. Then these festivals and cultures transformed majorly over the passing of time giving these festivities urban and modern touch with historic basis. Both the Hindus and Buddhists the major ethnic groups have their festivals celebrated on a large scale in Kathmandu Valley.
Tihar festival is one the most famous festival in Kathmandu and a major part of a population takes part in this festival. It is one the festivals which shouldn’t be missed at any cost specially by the people who are keen to learn about different ethnic groups and who explore new cultures.
The artistic constructions have now turn out to be places of devotion in the daily life of the people, and as a consequence a schedule is upheld to note the festivals in every twelve months, which is very well interconnected with the per diem life of the people. According to the people of Nepal there are 133 festivals in Nepal which are celebrated throughout the year by the people of Nepal.
Names of some of the most famous and exotic festivals celebrated and observed in Kathmandu valley are listed below except for the ones stated above:
Bada Dashain, Mohani, Tihar, Swanti, Chhath, Maghe Sankranti, Naga Panchami, Janai Poornima, Pancha Dan, Teej, Rishi Panchami, Indra Jatra Yenya, Ghanta Karna, Buddha Jayanti, Sri Panchami, Maha Shivaratri, Phagu Poornima, Pahan Charhe, Ghodejatra, Chaite Dashain, Nava Varsha, Jana Baha Dyah Jatra and Matatirtha Aunsi.